SANDY RUN BAPTIST CHURCH
Roxobel , Bertie County, North Carolina
in Recognition of its
John E. Tyler
In commemoration of its two hundredth anniversary
(1750-1950) I was requested by Sandy Run Baptist Church to
prepare a history of this ancient institution. If I have
dwelt at length on its origin and early development, it is
because these early formative years were years of
uncertainty and struggle. These were years when the church
was exposed to many influences and ideas. These were years
which saw the shaping of the character of the Sandy Run
Church. Like any well constructed house, built on a firm
foundation, the Sandy Run Church has endured.
In preparing this history I wish to express my
appreciation for their assistance to Miss Mattie Livermon,
Mrs. Paul Jilcott, Miss Eva Watson, Mr. Malcolm Brown,
Rev. George E. Reynolds, members of the staff of the Wake
Forest Library, Miss Mary Thornton, in charge of the North
Carolina Room at the University of North Carolina, and
others who have helped me in obtaining information.
Roxobel, N. C.
John E. Tyler
HISTORY OF SANDY RUN BAPTIST CHURCH 1750-1950
by John E. Tyler
The origin of the Sandy Run Church, the oldest Baptist
church in Bertie County, is intricately connected with the early
growth of the Baptist faith in North Carolina. It is assumed that
there were some Baptists among the early settlers in the
province, who drifted down from Virginia during the second half
of the seventeenth century, seeking the rich and more bountiful
lands along the Meherrin, Chowan and other streams which flow
into the Albemarle Sound. It is known that the Quakers were well
represented and that the Church of England was established by
1701. The first contemporary record of the presence of Baptist in
the colony, however, does not appear until 1714.
Under the guidance of Paul Palmer, the first Baptist church
in North Carolina was established in 1727 in Chowan County. This
church, however, was short lived and was soon scattered. Its
first and only local pastor is believed to have been a young
preacher named Joseph Parker, who afterwards moved to Meherrin in
present Hertford County and who in,., all probability took a number
of its members with him to begin the church there. In the
meantime a church had been established at Shiloh in present day
Camden County making it the earliest permanent Baptist church in
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As the little North Carolina colony began to expand in a
westward and southward direction from its nucleus about the
Albemarle region, we find the Baptist church spreading with the
increasing population. In 1722 Bertie Precinct had been formed,
as a part of Chowan County, embracing the lands west of the
Chowan River, extending northward to the Virginia line, with the
Roanoke River forming part of its southern boundary up to Welch's
Creek. Therefore, when Joseph Parker moved to Meherrin about 1729
or 1730 he located in what was at that time a part of Bertie
Precinct, which, also, at that time was changed to Bertie County.
All the while a great number of people were continually moving
down into North Carolina from the counties across the line in
The church which Parker established at Meherrin was the
first Baptist church to be founded west of the Chowan River. The
@hUf§h s£ Meherrin aervad an area which today includes Bertie,
Northampton and Hertford Counties and parts of Gates County. In
view of the increasing population, in this area, other churches
sprang up in the more thickly populated sections. Therefore, the
difficulties of travel were curtailed by the reduction of the
distance that the members had to go to reach a meeting house.
Such would seem to be the cause for the establishment of what was
to become Sandy Run Church, for about 1740 "Joseph Parker and his
people at Meherrin dismissed by letter enough of their members to
form what was long known as the Bertie Church, but later as Sandy
Run".(l) This new church was located some twenty-five miles
south of the church at Meherrin and several miles from Sandy Run,
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which flowed into the Roanoke River. This church which first
became known as the Bertie Church was, according to George W.
Paschal, the Baptist historian, the fourth Baptist church
established in North Carolina. With the quick demise of the first
church started in Chowan County, it became the third oldest
Baptist church to endure.
Several dates have been given for the founding of what we
now know as Sandy Run Church. Included are 1740, 1750, 1754-55-
56, 1773. The date, 1750, is most generally given in the minutes
of the different associations to which the church has belonged
and is the date accepted by it. No doubt, this is because 1750
was the year in which the church presumably received its
constitution and became an independent or separate unit. The fact
that it was established as an independent body in 1750, however,
proves that it existed as a branch of some other church before
that date. The dates concerning the founding of the Bertie (later
Sandy Run) Church may be summarized as follows:
1740-Founded as a branch of the Meherrin Church. During the
following decade it became associated with the Kehukee Church as
a branch of that church.
1750-Constituted and established as an independent body.
1754-55-56-Approximate dates re-established under new
1773-Reorganized by Rev. Lemuel Burkitt.
The site of its first meeting house was located about three
miles from Norfleets Ferry on the Roanoke River and about two
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Digitized by the Internet Archive
miles from Sandy Run(2) not far from the present town of Roxobel,
and in the vicinity of what was known as Bishops Mill Pond. When
the first church building was erected is not known. However, it
had been built by October, 1761, for at that time John Skinner of
Bertie County, who lived in that area, gave to "the Baptist
Society" a deed of gift to one acre, "it being the place on which
the people aforesaid have built a meeting house for her public
worship of God." This property adjoined his own and that of
Benjamin Harrell. In a later deed of 1765 the boundary of the
edge of the church property is referred to as "the meeting house
Northampton County was carved out of Bertie in 1741 and
Hertford County in 1759. With the establishment of those two
counties, Bertie lost much of its territory. Though, now, located
only a few miles from the boundaries of both these new counties,
the site of the church, begun in 1740 by some of the congregation
for the Meherrin Church, still remained in Bertie County. As the
only Baptist church in the reduced boundaries of Bertie, it was
known as the Bertie Church. It continued to be known as the
Bertie Church until the early nineteenth century. For a number
of years after it was constituted an independent church in 1750,
it and the Meherrin Church were the only Baptist churches between
the Roanoke and Chowan Rivers.
Little is known of these first struggling years of the
Bertie Church because there are no records or minutes to tell its
story. When it was established many of its members were scattered
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over the county in different neighborhoods. It is possible that
Elder Joseph Parker of Meherrin was responsible for its earliest
guidance. During the early 1740' s there was formed across the
Roanoke River from the Bertie Church another Baptist church. This
one, founded by William Soujourner, was located at Kehukee in
present day Martin County. It and the Bertie Church were to play
important roles in the development of the Baptist faith for the
remainder of the colonial days and during the early years of
North Carolina's statehood. Unlike the Bertie Church, which was
evidently formed locally from a larger church territory, the
first members of the Kehukee Church, migrated directly from Isle
of Wight County in Virginia, because of a "visiting pestilential
disease which carried off many of the inhabitants." This Baptist
congregation was seeking a more healthy region. The Kehukee
Church, from its beginning was a strong organization and under
the leadership of its first pastor it developed several prominent
The Bertie Church on the other hand, apparently had no
regular pastor and its organization was rather loose. The
proximity of the Kehukee Church to it, however, naturally had its
effect and sometime during the period from 1740 to 1750 it
appears that the Bertie Church came to look for guidance from the
Kehukee Church across the river, ra*ther than from its mother
church at Meherrin. No doubt the Kehukee Church began to supply
its preachers. One historian says that the Bertie Church became
established as an arm of the Kehukee Church, becoming an
independent body in 1750.(3)
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Members of the early Baptist churches in North Carolina were
of the General Baptist inclination. They were, no doubt,
influenced to some degree by Elders Paul Palmer, Joseph Parker,
William Soujourner and others who as their pastors and leaders
were General Baptist. One contributing factor which should not be
overlooked, however, is that many of these first Baptist in North
Carolina had moved, or were descended from families who had moved
into the colony from counties across the border in southern
Virginia, where a number of General Baptist had previously
settled. Isle of Wight County, Virginia, particularly, seems to
have been the source of many of the first General Baptist in
eastern Carolina. As early as 1700 a number of General Baptist
from England had settled in Isle of Wight County. From this area
apparently some gradually migrated into Carolina. It was also
from Isle of Wight County that William Soujourner brought his
little band of General Baptist when he established Kehukee Church
in 1742. The Bertie Church, like other Baptist churches
established in North Carolina before 1755 was originally a
General Baptist Church. (4)
In 1660 all the General Baptist in England had sent
representatives to London where they put forth a "confession of
faith" that they might make known their principles to the new
King Charles 11.(5) In 1679 they published a new confession
called the "Orthodox Creed". It was from these English General
Baptist beliefs that the first Baptist churches in North Carolina
were descended. Burkitt and Read speaking of the General Baptist
Paqe - 6
say, "They preached and adhered to the Arminian or Free-will
doctrine and their churches were first established upon this
system. They gathered churches without requiring an experience of
grace previous to their baptism; but baptized all who believed in
the doctrine of baptism by immersion and requested baptism of
them. The churches of this order were first gathered here (North
Carolina) by Elders Paul Palmer and Joseph Parker; and were
succeeded by a number of ministers whom they baptized."
The names of the first ministers of the Bertie Church have
not been preserved. No doubt at times it was without a pastor and
at times, as already mentioned, probably Joseph Parker or his
converts preached here. It can be assumed that the Kehukee Church
also supplied some of its ministers.
The earliest minister who had charge of the Bertie Church of
whom there is recorded evidence was Thomas Pope. He was born near
Blackwater, Virginia about 1728, embraced the principles of the
General Baptist and evidently, on moving into Carolina, was
baptized by Elder William Soujourner in 1749.(6) He was ordained
about 1751. He married Alice Foreman, who was the Widow Ford. (7)
In 1751 Rev. Thomas Pope was pastor at Kehukee and at the
same time was probably supplying foV the Bertie Church. Though
several years later when he reorganized it, the members seemed to
have been disorganized and pastorless. At this time the effect of
the Particular Baptist was beginning to creep into the North
Carolina churches, which would bring about a transformation in
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most Baptist churches in the colony, including the Bertie Church.
The Particular Baptist were also known as New Lights and later as
Regular Baptist. Their confession of faith, which was published
in London in 1689 containing thirty-two articles, held to the
Calvinist principles, a more rigid doctrine than that professed
by the General Baptist.
The movement in North Carolina seems to have first been
started by Rev. Robert Williams, who was a native of Northampton
County. He had gone into South Carolina in 1745 and there had
been trained in the Calvinistic doctrine of the Welsh Neck
Bapt i st .
"Returning about 1750 on a visit to his native county he
began to propagate his Calvinistic views. He had a great
influence with the General Baptist, especially those of the
Kehukee Church." Among his converts there was one William Wall is
who also took up the cause. "At the same time Rev. Edward Brown
who was at Great Cohara and nearer the Welsh Neck district began
to preach Calvinism and seemingly visited Kehukee and, added to
what had already been done by Williams and Wall is, won over the
pastor, Rev. Thomas Pope" (8), who was also serving the Bertie
Church. In order to win the Carolina churches to the Particular
Baptist view, Robert Williams and others sought aid from the
Philadelphia Association, the oldest Baptist association in
America and a stronghold of the Calvinist doctrine. The
Association sent Rev. John Gano , who came south in 1754 to
investigate. On hearing his story, upon his return, the
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Philadelphia Association moved to send two ministering brothers
to North Carolina to proselyte. Paschal in his history says, "It
is well to mark the warm missionary zeal of those Philadelphia
Baptist and their readiness to make contributions of money to
send messengers to rescue their Carolina brethren from error. But
for it we should have a very different type of Baptist in eastern
North Carolina from that found there today."
The two men sent on this important mission were Peter
Peterson Vanhorn and Benjamin Miller. The first church they
visited was Kehukee , where its pastor, Thomas Pope, was already
converted to the Calvinist doctrine. There in December, 1755, the
Kehukee Church was reorganized after the Particular Baptist
order. Shortly thereafter, perhaps in the first months of 1756,
Rev. Thomas Pope crossed the Roanoke River into Bertie and re-
established the Bertie Church under a constitution which adhered
to the beliefs of the Particular Baptist. Paschal in his history
gives a description of how a church made this change from a
General Baptist to a Particular Baptist. He says, "the method of
reorganization was first for the church in conference to disband
whatever organization had previously existed, which in most
cases, if we may believe Burkitt and Read, had been very loose.
It was the preacher's church, thqugh he had his deacons also in
some instances. At the transformation those who desired to come
into the new order were required to come under a new examination
which was conducted by the approved ministers of the Particular
Baptist faith who were present for the purpose. This examination
was intended to determine whether the applicant had been
converted before his baptism and he was expected to satisfy the
examiners by a relation of the religious experiences which had
led him to seek baptism. With Miller and Vanhorn those
examinations seemed to have been conducted with much rigidity.
When Miller and Vanhorn left the province their work was
continued by Rev. Thomas Pope who reorganized numerous churches
under the rigid Calvinist rules.
After Pope, the next minister connected with the Bertie
Church, as its pastor, apparently was James Abington. He was a
resident of Bertie County and before he "became religious, he was
a man much addicted to sporting and gaming, and very vicious in
his life and conversation". He was converted under the ministry
of Elder Pope and joined the Bertie Church, of which he became
pastor about 1764. As pastor of this church, Abington was
"Instrumental in gathering a considerable number of members". He
was "a man of bright genius, a ready mind, and a good voice".
In 1769 the Kehukee Baptist Association, modeled after the
Philadelphia Association, was formed. Its first and subsequent
meetings were held at Kehukee in Halifax county, therefore its
name. Not only did the North Carolina churches join this
Association, but also a number of southern Virginia Churches. The
Bertie Church was one of the original churches to be represented
at the Kehukee Association tfhen it:;was first organized in 1769.
To this meeting, the Bertie Church sent its pastor, James
Abington. Also as delegates it sent Ephram Daniel, Thomas Miers
and James Vinson. The next year, in 1770 the delegates were James
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his meetings a sermon of Whitefield or Williston. In a short time
he began to write his own sermons and engage in public prayer. It
is stated that "In this way he was lead by degrees to abandon the
purpose he had of entering the profession of law, and became
convinced that it was his duty to become a minister ".( 9 ) In July
1771 he was baptized in the Pasquotank River by Rev. Henry Abbot.
Lemuel Burkitt was seated at the Kehukee Association meeting in
1773 as a delegate from the Shiloh Church in Pasquotank now
Camden County and despite his youth was elected clerk of the
Young Burkitt, with Elders Jonathan Thomas and John Moore
were appointed by the Association as a committee to investigate
the situation in the Bertie Church and advise measures which
would be likely to regain a general fellowship in the church. The
committee induced the members to undergo a re-examination as to
their fitness for membership. A majority of the members were
received and the church was re-established under a new
constitution in November 1773. At the same time it chose Lemuel
Burkitt for its new minister, who was accordingly ordained by
Elders Jonathan Thomas and John Meglamre. The Baptist historian,
Dr. G. W. Paschal says "For the next third of a century he
(Burkitt) was the most influential man among the Baptist of North
* * *
Carolina and gave direction and character to Baptist development
in the eastern half of the state". This was the man who in 1773
had become pastor of the Bertie Church, a position, he was to
hold until his death. The first ruling elders for the Bertie
Church upon its reorganization in 1773 were James Vinson,
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Winbourn Jenkins, Jonas Woods, and James Jenkins. The first
deacons were James Rutland, Shadrack Dunning, Sander Futrel ,
Robert Moral, Henry Suton and Jesse Wi 1 1 iams . ( 1 ) Lemuel Burkett,
on moving into the Roanoke-Chowan area first lived in Hertford
County. In 1788 he was a delegate from that county to the
Hillsboro convention to consider the ratification of the United
States constitution. A majority of the convention, including
Burkett acting as a committee of the whole, proposed that no
actions be taken on the ratification until a bill of rights were
added to the constitution. This naturally was passed by the
convention and ratification of our federal constitution was
postponed until 1789 when it was ratified at the Fayetteville
convent ion .
In 1790, Lemuel Burkitt moved to a farm in Northampton
County, close to the Bertie County boundary at Sandy Run. His
first wife was Hannah Bell, daughter of Captain James Bell of
Sussex County, Virginia and sister to Elder James Bell. Their
children to reach maturity were three daughters; Mary, Nancy and
Sally, and three sons; Lemuel, Jr., William and Burges. Elder
Burkitt's second wife was Prudence Watson, also of Virginia, by
whom he had one child who died in infancy.
Under the leadership of its h*ew pastor, the Bertie Church
witnessed a great revival which began early in 1774. In that year
it sent as delegates to the Kehukee Association, its new pastor,
Lemuel Burkitt, and McAllister Vinson, James Lassiter and Jesse
Williams. In December of that year Rev. Jonathan Thomas preached
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his last sermon at the Bertie meeting house. His text was from
Luke XIV, verse 23: "Compel them to come in that my house may be
filled". Burkitt and Read describing the occasion say "There was
a large assembly, and but few in the congregation but what were
in floods of tears; and many cried out loudly". Elder Thomas went
home from Sandy Run complaining of a bad cold and early the
following year he died. The work of the revival continued for two
years during which time Rev. Burkitt brought nearly 150 new
members into the church. In 1777 the membership of the church was
About 1775 some of the members of the Meherrin Church living
on or near "Pottacasy" Creek in Northampton County formed a
separate fellowship. Under the influence of Rev. Lemuel Burkitt,
this group soon became a part of the Bertie Church.
At the time Burkitt took over the Bertie Church and began
his revival, the influence of the Separate Baptist was beginning
to have its effect on a number of the ministers of the Kehukee
Association. According to Burkitt and Read, the Separatist first
arose in New England, where some pious ministers and members left
the Presbyterian of Standing Order on account of their formality
and superfluity. They appeared in North Carolina as early as
1755. ° *
The Separate Baptist believed in a more evangelistic or
missionary spirit than was evident in the Particular Baptist. The
Separate Baptist also insisted on a converted membership with a
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strict examination before approval. The Particular Baptist were
supposed to uphold a similar policy, but a number of churches in
the Kehukee area had grown lax in this matter and many were
slipping back to the old ways of the General Baptist.
It was held by several of the churches of the Kehukee
Association that the Separate and the Particular Baptist should
be brought together. However, the Separate insisted on a
reformation in the Particular Baptist churches before such union
would be considered.
Rev. Burkitt had been in sympathy with the Separate Baptist
views before he became pastor of the Bertie Church. The revival
which he began in 1774 was a result of the Separate Baptist
influence. At that time he led the Bertie Church in open
conference to declare for a purified church membership, urging
that repentance and faith should precede baptism, and that the
church therefore exclude those who admitted they had been
baptized in unbelief. The church convinced of his arguments,
agreed to withdraw fellowship from all churches who maintained a
contrary doctrine. It was one of the first churches in the
Kehukee Association to undertake this new movement.
Shortly after the Bertie Church had effected this
reformation, three churches in Virginia brought about a similar
reform in their churches. This breech in the Association which
had been widening for sometime, finally resulted in a division in
1775 and for several years theological questions concerning
Page - 15
salvation were argued at its meetings. Burkitt and Read however
say that "it was not many years before all the churches were
united again and the name Regular and Separate buried in
obi i vion . "
In 1784 the Kehukee Association met at the Bertie Church.
Before it was to meet at this church again, the association was
to be greatly reduced by the creation of two new associations
from its territory. By 1790 the Kehukee Association perhaps had
reached its maximum growth, having increased to sixty one
churches, with a membership scattered over a wide territory in
North Carolina and Virginia. In that year the Virginia churches
withdrew to form the Virginia Portsmouth Association to be
followed in 1793 by the churches south of the Tar River
withdrawing to form the Neuse Association. Earlier, in 1789, the
Bertie Church also had lost members when the Connaritsa Church,
about ten miles away in Bertie County, was constituted.
In 1794 the Kehukee Association met for the second time at
the Bertie Church. (12) The membership of the association at this
time had been reduced to twenty-six churches as a result of the
two divisions. At this meeting, Meherrin, mother church of the
Bertie Church, applied for admission. She had remained a General
Baptist Church through all the year's, but had lately been
reformed, and was thus received into the Association.
At its 1791 meeting the Kehukee Association subscribed to
the Baptist Annual Register, a periodical, printed in London by
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in London by John Rippon, and at the same time appointed Elder
Lemuel Burkitt correspondent to it for the Association. He
undertook this important work and contributed to the publication
for some twelve years.
During this period he assembled much valuable information on
the religious affairs of the Baptist in eastern North Carolina. A
great deal of this material which first appeared in London in
Rippon's Register, was later used in compiling his history of the
Kehukee Association. In 1803 Elders Lemuel Burkitt and Jesse Read
were co-authors of the first history of the Kehukee Association
to be produced. This volume was published at Halifax, North
Carol ina . ( 1 3 ) It is an invaluable record of the early Particular
Baptist in North Carolina.
As stated before, the contribution that Rev. Lemuel Burkitt
made to the early progress of the Baptist faith in North Carolina
is difficult to over-estimate. Burkitt was consistently elected
clerk to the Kehukee Association. He was the originator of many
of the theological questions which were introduced at the
Association meetings for discussion and settlement and he often
formulated answers to the inquiries proposed by other members.
The beginning of the nineteenth century saw the "culmination
of all the great services of* Burkitt". This came about in the
Great Revival which swept through the entire country, and which
did much to give the people that evangelical seal and missionary
Page - 17
spirit which prepared them for cooperative work in missionary
societies and the Baptist State Convention.
On hearing the news of the revival in Kentucky, Rev. Lemuel
Burkitt set out for that state to learn if the reports were true.
Speaking of this journey. Paschal says, "Though he (Burkitt) was
already past fifty years of age, yet he was of wiry and tough
frame. Probably for the first time in his life leaving the plains
of the Atlantic Slope he climbed the majestic mountains which lay
in his way to Kentucky." When he arrived the revival was going on
with unabated progress. Seeing the wonderful works of grace "his
soul caught the seraphic flame. He preached most night and day
for several weeks, in Kentucky and Tennessee, with great
acceptance, then returned home fired with an ardent zeal
surpassing anything his friends had before seen." Burkitt
immediately took up the work of the revival in his home territory
describing the great work that had been done across the
mountains. In two years 1,500 new members had been added by
baptism to the churches of the Kehukee Association. People would
flock by the thousands to hear Elder Burkitt as he went from
church to church throughout the Association.
At the Meherrin church in August 1803 it was estimated that
some 4,000 people were present to Hear him. A stage, from which
Burkitt was to preach, had been erected in the meeting house yard
for the occasion. The weather was very threatening and before he
had finished the rain descended in a downpour. "Yet
notwithstanding the numerous congregation still kept together;
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effort was used to shun the rain by umbrellas, carriages,
blankets, etc. yet we believe 1,000 people were exposed to the
rain without shelter, some crying, some convulsed on the ground,
some begging the ministers to pray for them; and they composedly
stood and received the falling shower without ever being
dispersed. "( 14 ) Such was the power of Burkitt's eloquence.
During the period that Rev. Burkitt was pastor of the Bertie
Church a number of "ministering brethren had been raised up in it
and called to the work of the ministry." These included Elders
Amos Harrell, Robert Moral, McAllister Vinson, Pitts Kirby,
Frederick Futrell, James Rutland and James Vinson. Most of these
men left to spread the Baptist faith throughout other sections of
The minutes of the Bertie Church were kept by Elder Burkitt,
who also acted as its clerk. They cover the years from 1773 to
1804 and are the oldest record of the church known to be in
existence. ( 15 ) To the efforts of Rev. Burkitt, we, today, are
indebted for this insight into the early life of Sandy Run Church
when it was known as the Bertie Church. In these minutes are
listed the members of the church and included are the names of
some 125 Negro slaves who were in full fellowship with the
In 1806 it was found advantageous to make another division
in the Kehukee Association. This time all the churches east of
the Roanoke River were dismissed by letter to form the Chowan
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the Roanoke River were dismissed by letter to form the Chowan
Baptist Association. The Bertie Church, a member of the Kehukee
Association since its beginning in 1769, as a result of this
latest division, was now a member of the new organization.
Brother George Outlaw was made first Moderator and Elder Lemuel
Burkitt was made clerk.
The following year, 1807, saw the death of Rev. Burkitt. He
had been pastor of The Bertie Church since 1773 and was largely
responsible for its being one of the outstanding churches of that
period. His funeral was preached by Elder Spivey, who used as his
text, Paul's 2nd Epistle "For I am ready to be offered and the
time of my departure is at hand". He was buried near his home,
close by Sandy Run. A highway historical marker is soon to mark
the near by site of his grave. In the death of such a predominant
figure as Rev. Burkitt, the Bertie Church and the Chowan
Association must have felt a great loss. (16)
After the death of Burkitt, the Potecasi branch became
independent in 1808, and the Bertie Church had secured Rev.
Richard Poindexter as its pastor, who evidently was a preacher of
much ability. Beginning in 1809 Rev. Poindexter served the church
for approximately fifteen years^ In this year of 1809, the
recently created Chowan Association met for the first time at
Bertie meeting house.
Sometime between 1803 and 1821 the Bertie Church was moved
from its first location to Sandy Run on the Northampton-Bertie
Paae - 2
boundary. This location was about a mile from the present town of
Roxobel, beside the road leading into Northampton County. The
exact date that the church made this move from its earlier site
near Bishop's Mill Pond to Sandy Run, or why the move was made,
is not known. Perhaps a better supply of water and easier
accessibility at Sandy Run prompted the change, coupled with the
fact that adjacent to the site selected was the home and grave of
the church's beloved Rev. Burkitt.
The chanqe had not been affected by 1803, for in that year
Burkitt gives the church location as some two miles from Sandy
Run. That the move was made prior to 1821 is proven by a deed of
gift. In that year William Britton,(17) a substantial landowner
and merchant gave the tract of land, consisting of some five
acres at Sandy Run and on which the meeting house then stood,
according to the conveyance. The deed was made to Joseph Horn and
Godwin Cotten, as deacons of the Sandy Run Baptist Church. It was
witnessed by David Bryan, Will Hinton and Turner Horn.
Apparently for some years prior to 1825 the church had been
known as the church at Sandy Run or Sandy Run Church, but before
that it still appeared on the minutes of the Chowan Association
as Bertie Church. In 1825, however, it was recorded for the first
time, officially as, Sandy Run Church. In this same year the
Chowan Association for the second time held its annual meeting at
the Sandy Run meeting house.
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Rev. Richard Poindexter had appeared on the minutes of the
Chowan Association as a delegate from Sandy Run for the last time
in 1824. From 1825 through 1833 there is no record of a pastor
attending the Association from Sandy Run. By 1834, however, is
found that William S. Brown was serving the church. In 1836 Rev.
Andrew M. Craig had become pastor of Sandy Run. In the following
year, 1837, Pleasant Grove, in Hertford County, was constituted
as a separate church. One historian says that "under the
Dastorate of Lemuel Burkitt and afterwards under that of A. M.
Craig it (Sandy Run) was one of the most influential bodies of
its kind in eastern Carol ina" .( 18 )
Rev. Craig was born in 1806, ordained at Sandy Run Church
in 1832, and for the next twenty-five years was associated with
Sandy Run. His family, on coming into North Carolina had settled
in Orange County and though he had been reared in a Presbyterian
atmosphere he had joined the Baptist church.. Elder Craig was to
prove a minister of great ability and became an outstanding
figure through the Roanoke-Chowan area. He married Rebecca Gil lam
of Bertie County. They were the parents of Rev. Braxton Craig,
another capable Baptist divine and the Hon. Locke Craig, Governor
of North Carolina. In 1842 Rev. D. Harrell was listed as Pastor
of Sandy Run, but in 1844 Elder Craig was again in charge of the
The church continued to be situated at its second location
on Sandy Run until 1854, when it was moved to its present site in
the town of Roxobel. This time the land for the church was a gift
Page - 22
trustees for the Church. In this year the Rich Square Church was
also formed by members from Sandy Run.
In 1861, the Chowan Association met for the last time at
Sandy Run Church. In this year, besides Rev. Andrew Craig, two
other preachers were listed as being affiliated with Sandy Run.
They were Everett Hancock and T. Pittman. Elder Hancock, born in
Virginia in 1807, had been baptized by Rev. Craig in 1843. He was
ordained in 1852 and in 1862 was called to the pastoral care of
Sandy Run Church, but his ministry here was of short duration for
he died in 1865. After the death of Rev. Hancock, Sandy Run was
served by Rev. J. Bunch in 1873 and the Rev. T. J. Rook in 1877.
The West Chowan Association was cut off from the Chowan
Association in 1883 and Sandy Run Church again found itself in a
new organization. This same year the Lewiston Church was cut off
from Sandy Run. Among the pastors at Sandy Run during this period
from 1880 until the turn of the century were Revs. Charles W.
Scarboro, W. B. Wingate, J. W. Powell, Archibald Cree, Alexander
Speight, and T. T. Speight. In 1895 the West Chowan Association
met at Sandy Run.
The oldest continuous organization to which Sandy Run Church
still belongs is the Bertie Union Meeting. (19) This assembly
which now embraces the same territory as the West Chowan
Association, was established prior to 1803, perhaps during the
early years of the Kehukee Association. These Union Meetings were
first established as local units within the Kehukee Association
Page - 23
for the benefit of those churches which were closely situated to
The first members of the Bertie Union Meeting included Sandy
Run and the Cashie, Wiccacon, Connaritsa and Meherrin churches.
Most of these churches were located in Bertie County, which thus
explains why it was given the name of Bertie Union Meeting. Its
constitution called for an annual gathering of its members so
that they may come in fellowship with one another. These meetings
at first often lasted several days and were well attended by all
the neighboring churches, proving an inspiration to all present.
One of the first efforts for the establishment of Chowan College
at Murfreesboro was made through the Bertie Union Meeting.
Through the years these meetings have been discontinued in some
sections, but the Bertie Union Meeting still carries on.
In November 1898, Sandy Run Church dismissed by letter
twenty-two of its members to form a church at Kelford. Through
the ages from Sandy Run had developed the churches at Connaritsa,
Potecasi, Pleasant Grove, Lewiston, Rich Square, Kelford and part
of the congregation of the Aulander church.
On July 24, 1936 the very fine wooden church building, with
its memorial windows was struck by lightening and burned to the
ground. Members of Sandy Run immediately began work to replace it
with the modern brick church which now serves the congregation. A
dedication service for the new church was held on June 9, 1940.
Page - 24
Since 1900 among the ministers who have served Sandy Run
Church have been, Revs. J. 0. Alderman, Mcintosh, Dancey Cale, R.
L. Gay, J. W. Downey, Mr. Dailey, J. F. Cale, N. J. Todd, W. H.
Hollowell, Jesse Blalock, J. L. Powers, N. H. Sheppard, C. E.
Gaddy, C. M. Billings, Braxton L. Davis, Harold White, J. Wade
Baker, G. M. Singletary and its present pastor, Rev. George E.
The Sandy Run Church of today is a far cry from the handful
of members who brought it into existence two hundred years ago.
Its present membership is approximately 360, but there are untold
numbers, who, through its long history, have gone out from this
ancient institution to settle in other parts of the state and
nation, taking with them and continuing the life of the Christian
faith as they first experienced it in Sandy Run Baptist Church.
Page - 25
Moore, John W. manuscript history of N. C. Baptist in the Wake
Drest College Library-
Bur kett & Read, Histo ry of th e Kehukee A ssociation, 180 3
Hufham. N . C. Baptist H ist orical Papers. Vol. I, p. 226
Paschal, N. C. Baptist, p. 176
Paschal, N . C. B aptist, p. 22
Paschal, N . C. Baptist, p. 173
Edwards, Morgan Notebook, pp. 27 & 29.
Paschal, N. C. Baptist, Vol. I, p. 206
Paschal. History of N_. C. Baptist ,.- Vol . I p. 433
From the Sandy Run Church minutes (1773-1804) in the Wake Forest
olege Library. These are the earliest minutes of the church chat have
et been located.
Burkett & Read, History of the Kehukee Association, d. 50
2 Account of this meeting, as well as the one in 1784, are given in
lurkitt & Read's History of the Kehukee Association.
1 A second edition of this work was printed in 1850 by Elder
irkitt's grandson, Henry L. Burkitt.
4 Burkitt & Read, Hi sto r y of Kehukee Association
5 Located in the Wake Forest College Library.
6 Sometime after his death there was entered at the end of the Sandy
:un Church Minute Book, (1773-1804) a biographical sketch of Burkitt' s
ife. This sketch was printed in the Wake Forest Student, October,
7 William Britton lived at the crossroads about a mile from Sandy Run
n Bertie County. This crossroads had previously been called "Cotton's
!ross Roads", but was to be called Britton's Cross Roads or Britton's
Bore, for a number of years until it was named Roxobel in 1847.
8. J. D. Hufman, N. C. Baptist Historical Papers , Vol. I, p. 226.
.9 Its early constitution is printed in Burkitt & Read's Histor y of '
:he Kehukee Association.
Page - 25
PASTORS AT SANDY RUN BAPTIST CHURCH
T. J. Rook
Charles W. Scarboro
W. B. Winqate
J. W. Powell
T. T. Speight
J . . . A 1 de rman
R. L. Gay
Mr . Dai ley
J. W. Downey
J. F. Cale
N. J. Todd
W. H . Holloweli
J. L. Powers
N. H. Sheppard
C. E. Gaddy
C. M. Billinas
William S. Brown
Andrew M. Craig
Andrew M. Craig
Andrew M. Craig
C. M. Billinas
Braxton L. Davis
J. Wade Baker
G. M. Singletary
George E. Reynolds
George E. Reynolds
Andrew M. Craig
Andrew M. Craig
Churches Formed From Sandy Run Baptist Church
Connaritsa -- 1789
Potecasi -- 1808
Pleasant Grove -- 1837
Rich Square -- 1854
Lewiston -- 1883
Kelford -- 1898
Aulander -- 1886
(part of conar eaat i on )
(Held with Arminian
(Free Will doctrine)
Confession of faith
subscribed by Elders
in London and several
Counties in England
and presented to
King Charles II.
Vanhorn & Miller
(Known as New Lights)
Adopted the Baptist
confession of faith
Published in London
in 1689, contained
Doctrine of Grace.
Burkitt & Read
A Concise History of the Kehuke e Baptist
As socia t ion From its Original Rise down
to 1803 . (Revised and improved by Henry
L. Burk i 1 1 ) .
Philadelphia - Lippincott, Grambo & Co.
Delke, James A.
History of Nor t h Car olina Chowan Baptist
Association . 1806-1881
Raleigh: Edwards, Brouqhton & Co.
Paschal, Georqe Washington
Histo ry of North Ca ro Una Bap t i s t
Vol. I - 1663 - 1805.
Raleigh - 1930
Sempl e , Rober t B .
History of Virginia Baptist . Publ i shed
in 1810, (in the Wake Forest College
Articles and Manuscripts
Barnes, G. H.
"Sandy Run Baptist Church;
An Appreciation", newspaper article in
the Wake Forest Library
Moore, John W.
"History of North Carolina Baptist"
Manuscript in the Wake Forest Collece
Tyler Charles C.
"Sandy Run Baptist Church"
An historical sketch - from the
Roanoke Chowan Times, June 20, 1940, in
the Wake Forest College Library.
"Lemuel Burkitt"; biographical sketch,
appeared in the Bertie Ledger Advance,
Windsor, N . C- circa 1948-
Organizational Papers and Minutes
Chowan Baptist Association Minutes-
Vol . I, 1806-1845- in the Wake Forest College
Edwards, Morgan- "Mater ials Towards a History of North
Hufman, J. D. N. C. Baptist Historical Papers Vol.1
Kuhekee Baptist Association Minutes-
1769-1776, in the North Carolina Collection,
Wilson Library, University of North Carolina,
Chapel Hill, N. C.
Sandy Run Baptist Church Minutes-
Vol . I 1773-1804 in the Wake Forest Colleae
Library- These are the earliest minutes of the
church known to exist. Included with the minutes
is a biographical sketch of Rev. Lemuel Burkitt
and a copy of the deed to the property on which
the church stood in 1821.
Sandy Run Baptist Church Minutes-
1804-1855 Lost by fire. One contemporary record
during this period has been secured by the
courtesy of Mr. Francis Speight of Doylestown,
Perm. A copy of the record entitled "A List of
Sandy Run Members since our Last Association 1831"
is now in the Wake Forest College Library.
Sandy Run Baptist Church Minutes-
1886-1950 3 volumes, In custody of the Church of
Sandy Run Baptist Church, Roxobel, N. C.
West Chowan Baptist Association Minutes-
1886-1949 in the Wake Forest Colleae Library